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Seen and Unseen. 
The Voice of the Valley. 
From the Eastern Sea. 
The Pilgrimage. 
Lafcadio Hearn in Japan. 
The Spirit of Japanese Poetry. 
The Spirit of Japanese Art. 
The Story of Yone Noguchi. 
Ten Noh Plays. 





The Four Seas Company 




■^>^ ^^^tl.ii *'^R'S GRAY FUtit> 

\r Copyright, ipgo, by 

The Four Seas Company 

The Four Seas Prese 
Boston, Mass., U. S. A. 



The word epigram is not right word (and there's 
no right word at all) for Hokku, the seventeen 
syllable poem of Japan, just as overcoat is not 
the word for our haori. "That is good/' I ex- 
claimed in spite of myself, when I found this 
comparison. We know that haori is more, or 
less, according to your attitude, than the overcoat 
of Western garb which rises and falls with prac- 
tical service; when I say more, I mean that our 
Japanese haori is unlike the western overcoat, 
a piece of art and besides, a symbol of rite, as 
its usefulness appears often when it means prac- 
tically nothing. If I rightly understand the word 
epigram, it is or at least looks to have one object, 
like that overcoat of practical use, to express 
something, a Cathay of thought or not, before 
itself; its beauty, if it has any, is like that of a 
netsuke or okimono carved in ivory or wood, 
decorative at the best. But what our Hokku 



aims at is, like the haori of silk or crepe, a use- 
fulness of uselessness, not what it expresses but 
how it expresses itself spiritually; its real value 
is not in its physical directness but in its psycho- 
logical indirectness. To use a simile, it is like 
a dew upon lotus leaves of green, or under maple 
leaves of red, which although it is nothing but a 
trifling drop of water, shines, glitters and 
sparkles now pearl-white, then amethyst-blue, 
again ruby-red according to the time of day and 
situation; better still to say, this Hokku is like 
a spider-thread laden with the white summer 
dews, swaying among the branches of a tree like 
an often invisible ghost in air, on the perfect 
balance; that sway indeed, not the thread itself, 
is the beauty of our seventeen syllable poem. 

I can not forget Mrs. N. S. who came to see 
me at the poppy-covered mountainside of Cali- 
fornia one morning, now almost seventeen years 
ago; what I cannot forget chiefly about that 
morning is her story that she made a roundabout 



way in entering into my garden as the little 
proper path had been blocked by a spider-net 
thick with diamonds. I exclaimed, then, as I do 
often today, "Such a dear sweet soul (that could 
not dare break that silvery thread) would be the 
very soul who will appreciate our Hokku." 

I confess that I secretly desired to become a 
Hokku poet in my younger days, that is now 
twenty years ago, and I used to put the Hokku 
collection of Basho or Buson with Spencer's 
Education in the same drawer of my desk ; what 
did Spencer mean, you might wonder, for a boy 
of sixteen or seventeen? I myself wonder today 
about it when I look back on it; but it was the 
younger day of new Japan when even we boys 
thought to educate others before being educated 
ourselves (there was Spencer's Education), and 
we wished to swallow all the Western wisdom 
and philosophy, Spencer or Darwin or what else, 
at a gulp. I used to pass through Shiba Park 
famous for the Sleeping Houses of the Feudal 



Princes and also for the pine forest towering 
over the mortality and age, towards my school 
at Mita, whither today I turn my steps again 
to tell the Japanese students about the English 
poets bom in the golden clime, or other 
clime; and I often looked up with irresistible 
longing of heart, to a little cottage on a hill 
in this sacred park where Yeiki Kikakudo, 
the descendant of the famous Hokku poet 
Kikaku in poetical lineage, used to live in 
his seventieth year. I cannot recollect now ex- 
actly how I happened to call on him one night 
except from my impulse and determination that 
my meeting with him was thought necessary for 
my poetical development; it was the night of 
MeigetsUf the full moon of September, when 
many wanderers like myself, moths restless after 
soul's sensation, could be seen in the park 
through the shadows of trees. The little house, 
I mean that of Master Yeiki, so small that it 
might be comfortably put in any ordinary-sized 



Western drawing-room, was deadly silent with 
no light lighted ; I thought at once that it was the 
poet's beautiful consideration towards the moon 
whose heavy light, not being disturbed by any 
earthly lamp, might thus have full sway. I met 
thie old poet sitting on the step under the golden 
shower of the light, when I climbed up to his 
house, he led me within the house where the 
shoji doors all open welcomed the moon with 
old-fashioned hospitality. Indeed, that should 
be the way to treat the celestial guest ; when you 
observe how the Japanese moonlight crawls in 
with its fairy-like golden steps, you will wonder 
how humanized it is here. We two, young and 
old, sat silent, leaving all the talk to the breezes 
which carried down the moon's autumnal mes- 
sage; the light fell on the hanging at the tokono- 
ma whereon I read the following Hokku poem: 

Autumn's full moon: 

Lo, the shadows of a pine tree 

Upon the mats! 


Japanese hokkus 

Really it was my first opportunity to observe the 
full beauty of the light and shadow, more the 
beauty of the shadow in fact far more luminous 
than the light itself, with such a decorativeness, 
particularly when it stamped the dustless mats 
as a dragon-shaped, ageless pine tree; I thanked 
Kikaku, the author of the above lines, for giving 
me just the point to find the natural beauty, on 
which my imagination should have play enough. 
I bowed to the Poet Yeiki for good-night, and 
thanked him for the most interesting talk, al- 
though we had spoken scarcely a word, but I 
was perfectly tickled in delight as already then 
the old story of Emerson and Carlyle who had 
a happy chat in silence was known to me. When 
I left him, the moon was quite high, under whose 
golden blessing all the trees and birds hurried to 
dream; it was exactly such a night on which 
only two or three years ago I wrote the following 
lines : 



Across the song of night and moon, 
Across the song of night and moon, 
(O perfume of perfumes!) 
My soul, as a wind 
Whose heart's too full to sing. 
Only roams astray . . . 

Indeed, how I wandered that night, now thinking 
of this poet, then on that Hokku poem ; I clearly 
remember it was the very night that I felt fully 
the beauty of the following impromptu in Holcku 
by Basho: 

Shall I knock 

At Miidera Temple's gate? 

Ah, moon of to-night! 

Suppose you stand at that temple's gate high 
upon the hill lapped and again lapped by the slow 
water, with your dreamy face towards this Lake 
Biwa in the shape of a biwa-lute, which, as a 



certain poetess has written, "like a shell of white 
lies dropped by the passing day." I am sure you 
will feel yourself to be a god or goddess in the 
beginning of the world as in the Japanese my- 
thology, who by accident or mystery has risen 
above the opalescent mists which softly cover the 
earth of later night. 

I did not forget to carry with me the Hokku 
collection of Basho or Buson or some other poet 
in my American life, even when I did the so- 
called tramp life in 1896-1898 through the Cali- 
fornia field full of buttercups, by the mountain 
where the cypress tree beckoned my soul to fly, 
not merely because the thought of home and 
longing for it was then my only comfort, but 
more because by the blessing of the book, I mean 
the Hokku book, I entered straight into the great 
heart of Nature ; when I left the Pacific Slope in 
later years towards the Eastern cities built by the 
modem civilization and machineries, I suddenly 
thought I had lost the secret understanding of 



the Hokku poems bom in Japan, insignificant like 
a lakeside reed and irresponsible like a dragon- 
fly; how could you properly understand, for 
instance, the following Hokku poem in New 
York of skyscrapers and automobiles: 

A cloud of flowers! 
Is it the bell of Uyeno 
Or that of Asakusa? 

The poet, by the way Basho, means the cloud of 
flowers, of course, in Mukojima of Tokyo, whose 
odorous profusion shuts out every prospect and 
thought of geographical sense, of East or West; 
listen to the bell ringing from the distance! 
Does it come from the temple of Uyeno or 
Asakusa? Why, it is the poem of a Spring 
picture of the river Sumida. 

In September of 1904, I returned home; the 
tender silken autumnal rain that was Japanese 
poetry, and my elder brother welcomed me (what 



a ghost tired and pale I was then), and I was 
taken to his house in the Nihonbashi district of 
Tokyo to wash off my foreign dust and slowly 
renew my old acquaintance with things Japanese. 
Oh, that memorable first night after thirteen 
years abroad! I spent it alone in the upstairs 
room where I was left to sleep. I did not fall 
asleep for many many hours on my floor in the 
Japanese fashion; and my nostrils could not 
make themselves free from a strange Japanese 
smell, indeed the soy smell, which I thought was 
crawling from the kitchen. As I said, the rain 
dropped quite incessantly; the lamplight burned 
feebly; and I was alone. Listen! What was 
that I heard? Well, it was a cricket singing 
under the roof or behind the hanging at the 
tokonoma. I exclaimed then, "Was it possible 
to hear the cricket in the very centre of the 
metropolis?" My mind at once recalled th^ 
following Hokku poem by Issa: 



Let me turn over, 
Pray, go away, 
Oh, my cricket! 

My thought dwelt for a long while that night 
upon Issa, the Hokku poet at the mountainside 
of Shinshu, and his shabby hut "of clay and 
wattles made" where he indeed lived with them ; 
whenever I read him, the first thing to strike me 
is his simple sympathy with a small living thing 
like a butterfly or this cricket, that was in truth 
the sure proof of his being a poet. Although I 
had often read the above poem, I can say that I 
never felt its humanity so keenly as that night. 

When Mr. Aston published A History of Jap- 
anese Literature quite many years ago, I know 
that the part about Basho, the greatest Hokku 
poet of the seventeenth century, and the Hokku 
poems in general, did not make a proper impres- 
sion on the Western mind. And here I have no 
particular intention to force on your appreciation 



with this Japanese form of poetry; I am here 
only to express my own love for it. When we 
say that the East is the same as the West, we 
mean that the West is as different from the East 
as the East is from the West; how could you 
understand us through and through! Poetry is 
the most difficult art ; it will lose the greater part 
of its significance when parted from its back- 
ground and the circumstances from which it 
springs forth. I should like to ask who in the 
West will be able to think the following Hokku 
poem the greatest of its kind as we Japanese 
once thought: 

On a withered twig, . 

Lo, the crow is sitting there, 

Oh, this Autumn eve! 

Even to us, I confess, this solitariness of a Jap- 
anese Autumn evening with the crow crying 
monotonously on the tree is growing lately less 



impressive, when in fact as today the crows be- 
come scarce before the factories and smoke; and 
our modem heterogeneous minds are beginning 
to turn somewhere else. 

I declare myself to be an adherent of this 
Hokku poem in whose gem-small form of utter- 
ance our Japanese poets were able to express 
their understanding of Nature, better than that, 
to sing or chant their longing or wonder or 
adoration towards Mother Nature; to call the 
Hokku poem suggestive is almost wrong, al- 
though it has become a recent fashion for the 
Western critics to interpret, not only this Hokku 
but all Japanese poetry by that one word, because 
the Hokku poem itself is distinctly clear-cut like 
a diamond or star, never mystified by any cloud 
or mist like Truth or Beauty of Keats' under- 
standing. It is all very well if you have a 
suggestive attitude of mind in reading it; I say 
that the star itself has almost no share in the 
creation of a condition even when your dream 



or vision is gained through its beauty. I am 
only pleased to know that the star had such an 
influence upon you ; and I am willing to endorse 
you when you say the Hokku poem is suggestive 
in the same sense that truth and humanity are 
suggestive. But I can say myself that your 
poem would certainly end in artificiality if you 
start out to be suggestive from the beginning; 
I value the Hokku poem, at least some of them, 
because of its own truth and humanity simple 
and plain. Let me say for once and all there is 
no word in so common use by Western critics 
as suggestive, which makes more mischief than 
enlightenment, although they mean it quite simp- 
ly, of course, to be a new force or salvation; I 
apologize to you for my digression when I say 
that no critic is necessary for this world of 
poetry. Who will criticise truth or humanity? 
I always thought that the most beautiful flowers 
grow close to the ground, and they need no hun- 
dred petals for expressing their own beauty; 



how can you call it real poetry if you cannot tell 
it by a few words? Therefore these seventeen 
syllables are just enough at least to our Japanese 
mind. And if you cannot express all by one 
Hokku, then you can say it in many Hokkus 
yes, that is all. 

Although I was quite loyal to this seventeen 
syllable form of Japanese poetry during many 
years of my foreign wandering, I had scarcely 
any moment to write a Hokku in original Jap- 
anese or English. To translate Hokku or any 
other Japanese poem into English rarely does 
justice to the original; it is a thankless task at 
the best. What do you say, if there is one, 
suppose, who brings down the spider-net and 
attempts to hang it up in another place? Is it 
not exactly the case with a translator of Japanese 
poem, Hokku or Uta, whatever it be? To use 
another expression, what would you say if some- 
body ventured to imitate with someone's fountain 



pen the Japanese picture drawn with the bamboo 
brush and incensed Indian ink? 

We confess that we have shown, to speak 
rather bluntly, very little satisfaction even with 
the translation of Professor Chamberlain and the 
late Mr. Aston; when I say that I was amazed 
at their literary audacity, I hope that my words 
will never be taken as sarcasm. With due re- 
spect, I dare say that nearly all things leave 
something to be desired for our Japanese mind, 
or to say more truly, have something too much 
that we do not find in the original, as a result 
they only weaken, confuse and trouble the real 

During many years of my Western life, now 
amid the California forest, then by the skyscrap- 
ers of New York, again in the London 'bus, I 
often tried to translate the Hokku of our old 
masters. I had written the following in Eng- 



My Love's lengthened hair 

Swings o'er me from Heaven's gate: 

Lo, Evening's shadow! 

It was in London, to say more particularly, Hyde 
Park, that I wrote the above Hokku in English, 
where I walked slowly, my mind being filled with 
the thought of the long hair of Rossetti's women 
as I perhaps had visited Tate's Gallery that after- 
noon; pray, believe me when I say the dusk that 
descended from the sky swung like that length- 
ened hair. I exclaimed then: "Thank God that 
I have a moment to feel a Hokku feeling and 
write about it in English." Let me wait patient- 
ly for a moment to come when I become a Hokku 
poet in my beloved English. 

Here I beg to present you some English 
Hokku poems I had written lately. 




Some of these poems are written in 
measure of seventeen syllables, and the 
others are more free in forms. But the 
Japanese Hokku spirit, I believe, runs 
through all of them. 


Suppose the stars 

Fall and break? — Do they ever sound 

Like my own love song? 


A temple by the clouds. 

Down march the days and the pains. 

What hear I, brothers? 


What is life? A voice, 

A thought, a light on the dark,- 

Lo, crow in the sky. 


Some one at my door? 
Go away, go, — go away! 
Good night, sir or madam. 


The seas sleep. The stars — 

They are where? Oh my loneliness! 

I gaze on my heart. 


The fault shadow of the morning moon? 
Nay, the snow falling on the earth. 
The mist of blossoming flowers? 
Nay, poetry smiling up the sky. 


The far-away sky, 

The white billow in distance, 

And the expanse of Life and World, 



Sudden pain of earth 
I hear in the fallen leaf. 
"Life's autumn," I cry. 


My memory-bird, 

To the night's rhythm, soft and sad.- 

Ghost, art thou not tired? 



Lift anchor, life-ship! 

Love's red seas, white fancy-birds, 

Behold! and the blue. 



At eve, 

By a grass-made hut, 

The winds pass on. 

Saying something to the rice-plant leaves. 

I am knocking at the door of Life, — 
Is nobody in? 



Leaves blown, 
Birds flown away. 

I wander in and out the Hall of Autumn. 



Oh, canst thou hear 

The love talk of the man-star 

With the star- woman? 



ts it that the banner blows? 
Is what is blowing the wind? 

Life? or death? 

Child, neither the banner nor the wind blows :- 
No life and death but in thy mind. 
Phantom that is seen and dies! 



Lord, how long hast thou 

To spin the love-threads for dress ?- 

The love-threads of rain. 



Are the fallen stars 
Returning up the sky?- 
The dews on the grass. 



Shadow! There's shadow!* 
Heaven's shadow! Shadow! Shadow 
Of my far-off thought! 



Is it a fallen leaf? 
That's my soul sailing on 
The silence of Life. 



Behold the sky where the cuckoo sung,- 
There remains the morning moon. 

Behold the world where Life cried, — 
There remains poetry. 



(From Buson) 
Let day pass, 
"Let night break/'— 
So the frogs sing morning and eve. 




By the path of the breeze, 

Love lone but happy sings and roams. 

I gather the petals of thought, 
Nursed by the slumber of peace. 



Truth, like moon of day and night, 
Ever perfect, all silent and gold, 
Shed thy light over sorrow. 
Make me regain my rest and song. 



The voice falls like a dream, 
Across the light of forgetfulness. 

Eternity rolled in love, 

Bids the visible world to sing. 



Oh, my own self in the barge 
Laden with the memory of mists, 
Gliding down by the life-grey stream. 



I, a moth with no sense of the day, 

Dare not fly, 

Lest the silence be marred. 



A breeze forgotten by life, 
Steps from thought to thought. 

Oh, peace gained by hushed prayer! 



The silence-leaves fallen from Life, 
Older than dream or pain, — 
Are they my passing ghost? 



"Ghost of my soul," I shout, 
"That cries only to curse me?" 
Tip, tip, tip . . . thus the rain falls.- 



Full of faults, you say. 
What beauty in repentance! 
Tears, songs . . . thus life flow8 



Bits of song . . . what else? 
I, a rider of the stream. 
Lone between the clouds. 



That's the way that the stars grow old, 
Is it only that life has to pass away ? 

Oh, monotonous song that makes me hate myself. 
Song of sadness, song of fate ! 



Is it not the cry of a rose to be saved? 

Oh, how could I, 

When I, in fact, am the rose ! 



He has no time to think of others, he is an egoist 

His enthusiasm turns to silence, — 

Losing words, 

He gains his own personality. 



There's a moment the flower falls into false art, 
It's where the poet into mannerism falls too. 

It's accident to exist as a flower or a poet : 
A mere twist of evolution but from the same 



Song of sea in rain, 

Voice of the sky, earth and men! 

List, song of my heart. 



But the march to life . . . 
Break song to sing the new song ! 
Clouds leap, flowers bloom. 



To become tree-man, 

Oh, songs given back by the winds ! 

What joy of no-man. 



I see no form but only beauty in evidence : 
Oh, imagination and desire, makers of the life 
and art! 

To be the dancer is to make the singer sing. 



Crawled? Whereto? I know nothing except 

my desire 
To hunt after the hidden love, — 
A Hamlet across the night and pain. 



Is it the pillar by which I reach the sky? 

Is it the hill whereon I put my faith? 

Is it eternity where songs may find their home? 



The ancient song of my heart 
Comes and goes in Life's light. 

Sudden, a glow, a rainbow, 

Draws its line across the breast of my soul. 



Falle n leaves! Nay, spirits? 
Shall I go downward with thee 
By a stream of fate? 



Lo, light and shadow 
Journey to the home of night : 
Thou and I — ^to love ! 



This way? or that way? 

Where's the very street to Heaven? 

What webs of streets! 



Waking or sleeping? 

Oh, "No-more" older than world ! 

Be 'way, earthly care ! 



Speak not again, Voice! 
The silence washes off sins: 
Come not again, Light! 



The seas are passion-red, 
The willows humanity-green. 

Tis thy dream to make the rainbow sing, 
To make a stone leap to the sky. 



It is too late to hear a nightingale? 
Tut, tut, tut, . . . some bird sings,- 
That's quite enough, my friend. 



Oh, to part now, does it mean that we shall 

meet never again? 
To have done forever with joy, thou and I, 
Than to begin with pain again! 


,Yva\V cty 




across u ^^^^^ 







Vt^ ^^ 




The voice of the rockets — 
Then the flash. 

Is it not that of my soul bom to please the 

people below, 
To take pain of death in her keeping alone? 



To face only the sky and forget the land, 
Oh, to become a rider of the winds ! 

What a joy to find a greater song amid the 
clouds ! 



What is it? Is it 

The great voice of Judgment Day? 

Lo, pilgrim's of waves. 



Where the flowers sleep, 
Thank God! I shall sleep, to-night, 
To my own tears with thy smile? 



life to the arts shouts : 

"Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the great equi- 
Only accomplished once in a thousand times!" 



I wish to be like a hurrying, rock-hurling moun- 
tain stream, 

Its double torrents by the road of love will meet 
in the end. 



I row across the expanse of sea, 

And the far-away sky, — 

I row across the white billows of pain. 



The fickle waves of a strand do drench my 

sleeves with sprays: 
My songs cry only to make the stars sing. 



The maple leaves on the mountain top would 

wait for a king's train to pass once more, 
Why will my life wait for my own song? 



How sweet is to sleep! 

Is there any more sweet word than good-night? 



Like a cobweb hung upon the tree, 

A prey to wind and sunlight! 

Who will say that we are safe and strong? 



(From Ransetsu) 
To-day, at last to-day, 
I grew to wish to raise 
The chrysanthemum flowers. 



(From Basho) 

Ah, how sublime. — 

The green leaves, the young leaves. 

In the light of the sun! 



(From Basho) 

Lying ill on journey, 

Ah, my dream 

Run about the ruin of fields. 



(From Buson) 
Slow passing days 
Gathered, gathering, — 
Alas, past far-away, distant! 



Oh, How cool — 
The sound of the bell 
That leaves the bell itself. 



Where's cherry blossom? 

The trace of the garden's breeze is seen no more, 

I will point, if I am asked. 

To my fancy snow upon the ground. 



O Matsu San and O Cho San sing well, 
But O Hana San is the best to sing. 

To-day I am alone with a flute 
Upon the emptiness of the blue. 



The nightingales under the boughs, 
Sighing now white, now red, 
Sing a pearl song 
Over the greyness of earth. 



The snow, like silent army, hurries to the 

ground ; 
I, by the fireside, lonely watch the yellow hands 

of flame, 
Uplifting as if in prayer. 

I look around into the silence of the night. 



I hide myself behind the biggest billow,- 

Oh, what a delight ! 

How my poor doves search after me! 



Farewell, I go to the sea 

Where a hidden race chants toward the stars, — 

Where the thirsty clouds dip in the oldest wine. 



(From Ki no Tomonori) 
'Tis the spring day 
With lovely far-away light. 
Why must the flowers fall 
With hearts unquiet? 



(From Oye no Chizato) 

To gaze upon the moon 

Is to be sad in a thousand ways. 

Though all the autumns 

Are not meant to be my own self's alone. 



Is there anything new under the sun? 

Certainly there is. 

See how a bird flies, how flowers smile ! 



I sit by a charcoal brazier; 

Silence in the wind without calms my thought. 

I ask myself if the fire is not my own self. 
What are the fire-sticks that mock, cheat, play 

with and stir my soul? 
Oh, fire-sticks of my imagination, handle it kind, 
It will soon pass away, like the fire, into dust, 

the silence. 



The sunlight of mom 

Stq)s into my soul of dream, and says : 

"What a wilderness art thou!" 



With irony in look, 

Poetry peeps into my heart. 

"Doest thou carry a little intrigue on thy shoul- 
ders?" I say. 



Let me rise from life's dust, 
And save myself from pains. 
Who will come with me for an hour's carnival? 



Creator of attitude and art, 
Singer of life's intoxication, of youthfulness and 

Oh, spring extravagant and proud! 



(From Saigio) 

Know I not at all who is within. 

But from the heart of gratitude, 

My tears fall, 

Again my tears fall . . . 



The wind shook her hair of gloom ; 

The bleak sun flew down the way the sorrow 

comes forth. 
My soul swings 
As if a willow lieaf. 



Our thoughts and emotions are only the con- 
tinuation of the thoughts and emotions of our 
ancestors, which were often left hidden, unex- 
pressed, happily for us, but always in existence, 
like the touch of air; while our thoughts may 
appear so sudden, f righteningly new, they have 
somewhere a link, sure like the stars, if you have 
eyes to see, with those of our progenitors. We 
value what the ancestors expressed, because we 
can read at the same time, what they left tmex- 
pressed. I have no hesitation to say that the 
poets who sing like Byron or that golden-tongued 
Tennyson are admirable; but the good modem 
poets, no particular names mentioned, are unique 
at least on account of their inability (ability per- 
haps) in singing. It takes much talent to de- 
scribe the outward beauty, and, true to say, even 
some original gift to appreciate it ; but your real 



courage will be proved in your entire loss of 
desire of outward things. One can be taught 
by another how to see and understand the out- 
ward beauty, but there's hardly any guidance in 
the invisible matter, and you are your own guide, 
alone in the world, in your change from the 
visible to the spiritual. It is easy to change your 
dress and hat according to the season and style; 
but the outside attire, even the best kind, is of no 
avail for your spiritual change. It is natural 
course to enter the invisible from the visible, as 
you step into night from day; but you must let 
it come after having enough satisfaction of the 
outward things. The mellow perfection of the 
night only comes after all the splendour of the 

As for me, I have no strong love with the 
outward things, and always take a deep delight 
in the little inward world — ^the largest world per- 
haps — of my creation, and rarely sing the visible 
beauty. Is it because I am philosophical? Per- 



haps I am, without knowing it at all. Is it be- 
cause I am somewhat logical? Perhaps I am, 
although people (I included) do not notice it. 
One thing I can say with much faith is that I 
take a great energy to gain an assertion, and a 
tireless persistence to be content with the invisible 
things. You must fully imderstand the beauty of 
Ufe, if you want to see the beauty of death; and 
life will be more beautiful from the reason of 
contrast with death. And death, again from the 
contrast with life, will be more tender in pathos, 
more subtle in rhythm. My song is always with 
the falling leaves and the d3ring day. 

I am not ready to say such is the poetry of 
modem Japanese poets ; it is so at least with some 
of them. And it is a mo^t striking contrast with 
the material civilization of present Japan, which 
was brought at once from the West ; the West, 
strangely enough, sent us at the same time her 
spiritual literature tmder the arbitrary name of 
symbolism. Now, that symbolism is not a new 



thing at all ; for us, it is a continuation, of course 
with much modification, of our old thoughts and 
emotions. It is interesting to note that it came 
here when we were much criticized as material- 
ists without capacity of understanding any spiri- 
tual beauty. As somebody says, the real modem 
civilization of Japan is nothing but the old civili- 
zation which has changed its form ; and I say that 
the true new literature is, indeed, the old litera- 
ture, baptized in a Western temple. We have 
led, for a thousand years, our insular lives; we 
have been materially poor (many thanks for that 
poverty), and then we found it quite easy to com- 
mune with our minds. As the reality was never 
so splendid, we were obliged to seek satisfaction 
in dream; as we could not sing so well, we 
learned the art how to sing in silence, the art 
how to leave imsimg. Poetry was never a criti- 
cism of life in Japan, as it was for one time in 
the West; but it was the words of adoration and 
love of nature and life. It is only the modem 



note to make the most of literature and life; it is, 
I dare say, from the hidden desire to value the 
no-literature and death more than the literature 
and life themselves. 

We must lose our insularity, although it needs 
a strength of consciousness; what we want is 
intensiveness, the art of distillation of our 
thought, which only comes from the true pride 
and real economy of force. Universalism is of- 
ten a weakness itself. We do not need, in our 
Japanese literature, any long epic and song be- 
cause they are touched more or less by pretension. 
Our song is a potted tree of a thousand years* 
growth; our song is a Japanese tea-hous<e — four 
mats and a half in all — ^where we bum the rarest 
incense which rises to the sky ; our song is an opal 
with six colors that shine within. 



■ >/ 


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